Charities Eager for Ackermann Cash Jam Phone Lines

Dusseldorf (dpa) - A promise by a top banker in Germany to donate a huge sum to charity to ward off conviction has led to a jammed switchboard at the courthouse as non-profit groups vie for largesse.

A courts spokesman in the western city of Dusseldorf said Monday the court server had also crashed as willing takers bombarded it with e-mails or hunted online for information on where to claim the money.

Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann and five other defendants promised last week to pay 5.8 million euros into court, with 40 per cent reserved for charity and the rest to go to public funds. Charges that they misappropriated funds in 2000 were dropped.

The spokesman said hundreds of applications for the 2.3 million euros reserved for good causes had already been received.

"We're not counting them any more now," he said, appealing to charities to send in application by post along with proof of non-profit status. He said private individuals, no matter how deserving they claimed to be, would not qualify.

Ackermann, one of Germany's best-paid employees, personally promised

3.2 million euros (4.2 million dollars) to the settlement. He and prosecutors are allowed to nominate charities, with judges then to decide on the recipients.

Prosecutors alleged that Ackermann, as a board member of phone company Mannesmann, had no power to approve huge bonuses to retiring staff when the wireless operator was taken over by Vodafone.

Copyright 2006 Reuters.

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